Alan McManus withheld a stern challenge from women’s world champion Ng On Yee to win his World Championship qualifying opener on Friday.
The Scot, three times a Crucible semi-finalist, trailed 6-5 at one point but eventually drew on his experience to pull away and took the last five frames of the contest.
Ng, a three-time women’s world champion, looked in the running to cause an upset right from the very beginning when she won the opening two frames.
At 4-4 after the first session, the game was evenly poised and her veteran opponent must have been feeling under the cosh when the Hong Kong cueist was edging closer and closer to the winning line.
But McManus, the 1994 Masters champion, eventually got on top of proceedings and was a relieved figure as he booked a spot in the penultimate qualifying round against Martin O’Donnell.
💬 “I would love to play at the Crucible again. You never know when it is going to be your last time.”@alan_mcmanus reacts to his win over women’s World Champion Ng On Yee this evening in Sheffield.#ilovesnooker pic.twitter.com/mHxezT4Otn
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 13, 2019
O’Donnell was day three’s latest victor, outlasting local player Adam Duffy 10-6 in a match that concluded just shy of midnight.
Meanwhile, another multiple former women’s world champion in Reanne Evans struggled to replicate the kind of form that brought her a landmark victory in qualifying two years ago.
In the 2017 preliminaries, Evans stunned Robin Hull 10-8 to give her an opportunity of becoming the first woman to reach the Crucible.
A repeat performance this time was rarely on the cards as she got thrashed 10-2 by China’s Zhang Yong.
The day’s biggest shock saw Ng’s countryman Marco Fu bow out at the opening hurdle, making it the first time in 15 years that the latter will fail to be among the final 32 at the Crucible.
Fu has been out of form for a year and a half, hindered by an eye injury in which he took time away from the sport last season to have laser surgery.
The impact has had little influence on his game and the three-time ranking event winner will finish this term outside the world’s top 50 after a 10-7 defeat to Luo Honghao.
Elsewhere, Fergal O’Brien did his tour survival hopes the power of good with a 10-4 triumph over European under-21 champion Jackson Page.
The Irishman lost the first three frames but dominated the affair thereafter and is back inside the top 64 in the provisional end of season rankings.
Among the others to advance to the next round at the English Institute of Sport were Joe Perry, who memorably reached the last four in 2008, and Mark Davis.
Tom Ford, Robbie Williams, Sam Craigie, and Jordan Brown were the day’s other winners.
Several fixtures also reached the midway points of their encounters.
Jimmy White recovered from a slow start to lead emerging Irish talent Ross Bulman 6-3 overnight.
Ali Carter, Michael White, and Mark King all enjoy large leads and will fancy their chances of safely making it through on Saturday too.
Day four will see all the remaining players who haven’t yet featured entering the fray, including world number 17 Ryan Day as well as former world champions Ken Doherty and Graeme Dott.